I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Saturday, February 18, 2012

It's Only Fair!

So they're going to publish the Value-Added Model (VAM) ratings of New York City teachers in the local papers, just like Los Angeles (yeah, that worked out great). These ratings are based on student test scores, run through a statistical model like this:

I think all the editors who make the decision to publish the ratings should have to explain this formula to their readers, don't you?

If they can't, I have another suggestion: publish the students' individual scores. Now, I know some of you may think that's crazy, but it makes a lot of sense to me:

See, a teacher is going to be judged by his or her kids' scores, right? And we need to publish those to give parents "information" (they won't be allowed to act on it, or chaos will reign in the schools, but we don't worry about these problems when we take a reformy mindset, do we?). Well, there's plenty of evidence that learning is affected by a student's peers (even Carolyn Hoxby says so!). Why shouldn't the parent know whether Johnny's 5th grade class is going to be filled with little slackers bringing him down?

Plus, it's only fair to the teacher. If I'm going to get publicly strung up when my kids don't fill in the right bubbles, shouldn't I have a say in who comes into my classroom? These days, doctors are "firing" their patients when they refuse to get their kids vaccinated; why shouldn't I have the same right when homework isn't finished? I don't need a bunch of lazy kids with parents who don't give a crap taking away my merit pay!

Now, I know some of you are a little nervous at this idea. I mean, these are only kids, right? Isn't it wrong to put this kind of pressure on them? Shouldn't they have the ability to learn at their own pace? Shouldn't we focus on developing their intrinsic love of learning?

Whatever, hippie. The purpose of education is not instill some earthy-crunchy crap about "love of learning"; the purpose of education is to evaluate teachers. That's why corporate reformers talk incessantly about teacher quality, and are reworking the curriculum and governance of schools toward the goal of scrutinizing every possible aspect of a teacher's work. The kids are a product, you see. This is, after all, America.

Besides, life is tough, and it's all about competition; the faster the little ones learn that, the better off they'll be. Suck it up, kid; if you can't, don't expect to get into my classroom without a fight (or a nice bribe for my principal when he makes those class lists).

It's only fair!

(You all know this is satire, yes?)

ADDING: Walt Gardner says some smart things about teachers and doctors.

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